WHEN YOU SHOW YOUR FACE (Mark 1:7-11): 11 January 2009 (Baptism of Our Lord)
You know well that I lost a friend this week. After a long battle with his illness, Father Joey died. In his last days, all he wanted was to leave the hospital, go home, and die among his family and community. Thank you for granting him his last wish. That evening on the very same day he returned to his community, he took one last breath and was gone. Mercifully, no pain. Only peace.
I’ve been of course thinking about him, and what his life and his person have meant to me. Was it Karl Rahner who wrote that the meaning of a person’s life is revealed fully only in death? My brother Jesuits, friends, and I have done nothing these past days but share stories and swap memories about Father Joey–whom some of us fondly call F. Suddenly, the simplest words he has said and his most ordinary actions have taken a special significance. Just this morning, a friend–one of the souls Father Joey had guided–sent me a text message, and her message said: “I can’t believe it! The more I think about Father Joey, the more allive he seems to be!” My response: “Me too! It must be what they mean by Easter.”
Today as I read about your baptism, I was struck by the epiphany that occurred as you stepped out of the river–the tearing open of heaven, the dove-like descent of the Spirit, and the Father’s declaration: “You are my beloved Son. In you, I am well pleased.”
Such epiphanies are rare and often catch us by surprise. I think I experienced one as we accompanied and watched with Father Joey in his last days: Heaven was torn open, and as the Spirit, tender as a dove, perched on Father Joey, we caught an unmistakable glimpse of your shining face, the Beloved Son.
Thank you for this gift. Like the Baptist, I felt unworthy to have witnessed this baptism–but was immeasurably blessed by it.
(image: photograph courtesy of Ali Figueroa. Note the safari hat on the desk, which, according to Ali, Father Joey wanted to be in the picture.)
Note: Fr. Jose Moises Tamayo Fermin, SJ (November 25, 1962 – January 05, 2009) was the Headmaster of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School from 2001 to 2006. The following slideshow was shown during the Funeral Mass at the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila last 09 January 2009. Fr. Mario Francisco felt that Chris Daughtry’s song, “Home,” captured Father Joey’s last days. Many of the pictures were from the Ateneo Grade School, and some of them, as well as the messages, were lifted from Father Joey’s Facebook. Making the slideshow was, for me, both thanksgiving and therapy.